Five Burlesque Fails To Avoid

Actually we’re going to confess before we start writing this article. We saw something very similar in a monthly magazine whilst at the dentist. While this magazine outlined ‘workplace fails’ we thought the same rules could apply to the burlesque industry – so we’ve flipped it to bring you some (hopefully!) great advice… 

Don’t wait to perform better…

So you find yourself doing a small show when all your dreams and ambitions are fixed on hitting brighter lights and bigger stages. You know you are destined for bigger things so you ‘save’ your best work for this future. You don’t even try and do your best when you are doing the smaller shows. The thing is, you must always do your best, even if you feel a show is beneath your status (what? no show or audience is ever beneath anyone’s status!). Every ticket holder, every producer and every other performer who sees you perform will be left with that impression and if you’ve ‘saved yourself’ for a bigger show, you won’t get any bigger shows as producers only book on your output. Have pride in your routines and the image you are cultivating and do well every time. You owe it to yourself and everyone who sees you perform.

Don’t carry tales…

Oooh, it’s so tempting when you’re at a show with people you may or may not know to join in their conversations with the latest gossip or second hand news. It’s also tempting to join in with online heated debates or post scandalous stuff on your social media. But before you hit the ‘post’ button, step away from the status. Producers, fellow performers and audiences all read this stuff. And without even knowing you can form an opinion. And you never know who is at shows listening to what is being said. Don’t damage your reputation with a loose tongue and even looser fingers on the keyboard.

Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not… 

We all wish here was a world where angels came and did our hair and make-up and we lived a champaign life where everything is glamour. We might think we are a hollywood starlet – but this is not real, is it? Putting the odd ‘creative’ selfie or status online is okay – it helps with the image but continually referring to your friends on facebook as ‘fans’ and only posting ludicrous laments about a life that is not real really is the fast way to turn your ‘fans’ away (fans? really?). Be realistic. Show yourself. Answer as yourself and speak and act as the real ‘you’. Continually putting up a pretense is very tiring as you are basically acting a character all the time. Do actors on the screen and stage continually walk around in life as these characters? No, because they value their sanity and themselves. Be real.

This also applies to ‘faking’ your experience to try to get better shows or be respected by your peers. Believe us when we tell you that others will respect you more when you are honest. If you have only just started performing, we really like it when you tell us this! It’s better than pretending you’ve got loads of experience.

Do watch the clock… 

Lateness is never a good look on a performer. Late sending in tech information, photos or other requested material prior to a show makes the producer think you don’t care about the job they are paying you to do (and part of that payment is for you to send information as and when it is needed). A producer has loads of jobs and you don’t need to add to the list by being the one that they have to chase to remind to send stuff.

When coordinating your travel plans always allow extra time in case of anything going awry. This is also a winner because it means you have time to relax at the other end of your journey. Lateness to a show is a definite ‘no’ as not only does it annoy the producer, the technical staff (who will be waiting for their rehearsal of your act – the tech run) but it could have a knock-on effect with the show having to open late and over-run. Some venues charge producers a fine if a show extends their agreed hire time. C’mon, you are not Axyl Rose!

Lateness for your act can also be avoided. If you know an act takes a while to get into, ask the producer if you can perform that one first and leave a quicker change act for your second act. Alternatively, if you know you have a messy act and it’s going to take you a while to clean up, ask to do that as your second act. You can limit time faffing by preparing pasties before the show starts and laying out costume and props – if there is room – to help with a quick change. and, however tempting it is to watch the other acts on the bill and leave changing until the interval (then having to rush like a fool because there is NO TIME – ARRGGHHH!!) the best practice is the change as soon as you come off stage from your first act, then you can watch all the acts you like!

Don’t ignore the pecking order…

We don’t mean you need to bow to your headliner if you are lower on the bill than them. But there is a hierarchy in any industry. It means not behaving like a diva if you are lower on the bill (and actually, not behaving like a diva if you are top-billing too!). It means not demanding the time or attention of the producer or anyone who works on a show to the detriment of those higher on the bill than you (and that includes taking up all the tech time because you just want to run ‘that bit once more’).

This also means not speaking out of term. Those higher on the bill than you have worked really hard to get where they are and have a lot of experience. Sometimes as new performers we get blinded by our excitement and enthusiasm and we want to show we are as knowing as those around us. However well-intentioned, giving a headliner ‘advice’ when they’ve worked in the industry for years is not advised. It doesn’t come across as advice.

And Producers! This is also for you. When billing your performers, always make sure their billing relates to their status, experience and the buzz they have on the scene. Putting performers as headliners because you know them above those who are respected on the scene is a bit disrespectful. It also demonstrates that you don’t really know the industry or your knowledge of performers. Research and bill (and pay!) accordingly!

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